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Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 354: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Pappy’s Haunted House – Dude ++ Jimmy Thomas – Springtime ++ The Paragons – Abba ++ Big Star – Back Of A Car ++ The Soul Inc. – Love Me When I’m Down ++ Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang ++ Donn Shinn & The Soul Agents – A Minor Explosion ++ T.L. Barrett And Youth For Christ Choir – Like A Ship ++ King Khan & The Shrines – Welfare Bread ++ Flash & The Dynamics – Electric Latin Soul ++ Donald Jenkins & The Delighters: Elephant Walk ++ Symphonic Four: Who Do You Think Youre Fooling ++ Milton Henry: Gypsy Woman ++ Bishop Perry Tills – I Pound a Solid Rock ++ Serge Gainsbourg – New Delire ++ Phil Upchurch – Sitar Soul ++ White Hinterland – Dreaming Of Plum Trees ++ Jan Hammer Group – Don’t You Know ++ Joe Valentine – I Can’t Stand To See You Go ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem pour un con ++ The Three Degrees – Collage ++ Dion – Baby Let’s Stick Together ++ Margo Guryan – Sunday Morning ++ Robert Vanderbilt & the Foundation Of Souls – A Message Especially From God (AD edit) ++ Ned Doheny – I’ve Got Your Number (demo) ++ Daughn Gibson – Bad Guys ++ Glen Campbell – Guess I’m Dumb ++ Jonathan Rado – Valentine’s Day (McCartney) ++ Paul McCartney – Arrow Through Me ++ Gil Scott-Heron – Message To The Messengers ++ Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread ++ Jerry & Jeff – Voodoo Medicine Man ++ Jack Nitzsche: The Lonely Surfer / Oscar Harris: Twinkle Stars Boo Galoo ++ Joe Bataan: Chick-a-boom ++ Jacques Dutronc: Les Cactus ++ The Shadows: Scotch On The Socks ++ Nancy Dupree – James Brown ++ Jackie Shane – Any Other Way ++ The Wallace Brothers – My Baby’s Gone ++ Alex Chilton – Don’t Worry Baby (fragment) ++ Harry Nilsson – Mother Nature’s Son ++ The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – California Girls (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl (Rehearsal) ++ The Velvet Underground – Oh! Sweet Nuthin’

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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LevonHelm1978

Uh huh.

Levon Helm :: Take Me To The River

soul

When soul music aficionados get together and start talking music, the inevitable question of preference between ‘Detroit vs Memphis’ almost always seems to arise, to which my response is ‘YES, both please! But don’t forget about Chicago’. The well of Chicago soul 45′s is practically bottomless, and the majority of the hundreds of records recorded in the windy city during the golden age of soul are at least very good, with many veering into the exceptional category, and very few falling into the ‘unsatisfying listening’ bin.

The axis of Chicago soul centers around several key players and record labels, as well as those who followed their influence and cut their own records under their shadow. Chicago was also a key record distribution hub, with S. Michigan Avenue housing what is known as ‘Record Row’. I’ll tell a version of their story based on what’s in the grooves of  a few of my favorite (lesser known) gems from this mighty, hard working city.

Gene Chandler :: Mr Big Shot

Sadly, Gene Chandler is thought to be a one hit wonder (“Duke Of Earl”) to those with scant knowledge of rock and soul history. Gene Chandler had MANY excellent R&B hits that are cherished by soul fanatics, though relatively unknown to the rest of the world, even though this man not only performed, but also wrote, produced and acted as an A&R liason/ talent scout. “Mr. Big Shot” (1966) is by far one of his most hard hitting soul records, and it sank without a trace, no thanks in part to Constellation Records (a label in which Gene co-founded) was on the verge of bankruptcy, making any type of distribution nearly impossible. A pity, as it is a superb record.

The Dells :: Wear It On Our Face

The Dells, the epitome of the male Chicago group sound, were formed while the group was still in high school (1952) during the early doo-wop years. Their first single was released as The El-Rays in 1954 (featuring the lineup of Marvin Junior, Mickey McGill, Lucius McGill, Verne Allison, Chuck Barksdale, and Johnny Funches), and by 1955 they had renamed themselves the Dells and became a quintet after the departure of Lucius McGill. The group cut the exquisite “Oh What A Night” for Vee Jay Records in 1956 which became a million seller, and one of the most loved doo-wop songs in the history of the genre.

Follow-up singles didn’t hit, and the group was derailed temporarily after a serious 1958 car accident which involved Mickey McGill. The group put their career on hold until 1960, when Mickey recovered, but Johnny Funches had left (to be replaced with Johnny Carter). This lineup remained stable for FIFTY years until Johnny Carter passed away in 2009.

The Dells spent the early part of the ’60′s as studio singers (most notably singing the backups on Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger”; a performance which I rank as one of the all-time greats, both from Barbara Lewis and The Dells). The group cut several unsuccessful (but usually quite good) singles for Vee Jay during these years, but their career renaissance began when they were signed to Chess records and began working under the production and writing talent of Bobby Miller. The singles released by the group between ’66-’68 are some of the greatest ever, and the LP There Is, which collects some of these 45s and adds in a few more stellar tracks, is simply one of the greatest soul LP’s ever released.

“Wear It On Our Face” (1968) is one of my favorites from the mighty Dells; with its freaky but great steel drum/piano intro forward into the extraordinary lead vocal from Marvin Junior, the group harmonies and the power of the musicians take us to a place where time stops and the transcendence of music is all that matters.

Barbara Acklin :: Fool, Fool, Fool

“Fool, Fool, Fool” was Barbara Acklin’s debut 45 under her own name (an earlier release credited her as Barbara Allen on a tiny label), released on the Chicago soul powerhouse label Brunswick Records in 1967. Ms Acklin was born in Oakland, CA in 1943, and her family moved to Chicago in 1957. Her clear, soaring soprano was just the type of voice that was favored by the record makers of Chicago, yet Barbara also displayed a wide depth of range in her voice which is heard brilliantly here. The record is super cool, with a very appealing echo on the drums and fantastic call and response vocals. Super catchy, but it barely made a dent commercially, making for a very hard to find 45.

The Vontastics :: Never Let Your Love Grow Cold

Quite unusually, The Vontastics lead vocalist (Bobby Newsome) was also the chief songwriter for this groups’ excellent handful of 45’s. This stomper of a side from 1967 is one that has resonated deeply with me from the first time I’ve heard it, and it’s one that is ALWAYS in my DJ box. There may be moments where the group harmonies waver a bit out of tune, but to my ears it only adds to the power and soul of this righteous track.

Previously: Wax Wonders :: Chicago Soul, Part One

(Derek See is a Bay area based musician who plays guitar with The Bang Girl Group Revue, Joel Gion & Primary Colours, and occasionally makes records on his own with The Gentle Cycle.)

unnamedGarciaLive Volume Four: March 22nd, 1978 Veteran’s Hall

In late 1974 the Grateful Dead were battening down the hatches and taking refuge from the storm of popularity that had pushed them into larger venues, stage setups and crews. As the age old saying goes ‘more money, more problems’. Jerry had slinked away to the comforts of small Bay Area clubs and a song book stocked with Bob Dylan, Motown classics, early rock & roll and everyone’s new island fascination: reggae. But, here’s the funny thing about the Jerry Garcia Band (or JGB) – while the Grateful Dead were this hugely popular hand over fist profitable touring group – with nearly every note and movement being recorded by their rabid fan base – Jerry’s solo career has largely gone undocumented. The band was often fleshed out with a ragtag ad hoc assembly of musicians that allowed for a constant game of ‘who’s on first?’. Drummers, keyboardists, back up singers and others came and went, but throughout all this, the core membership was Jerry Garcia with his right hand man, John Kahn on bass – a dynamic duo that would work together for nearly 30 years.

The Dead’s short but productive sabbatical ended in 1975 with the release of the transformative Blues of Allah, with the band back on road mid-1976 with a scaled back presence – both on and off the stage. 1977 saw a legendary spring tour and the release of Terrapin Station. Feeding off this relentless forward momentum, Garcia hit the studio for his first proper release as the Jerry Garcia Band (Cats Under the Stars) with an all-star cast of friends including Kahn, Keith and Donna Godchaux, Elvis’ drummer, Ron Tutt, organist Merl Saunders and folkie Maria Muldaur. Garcia’s arsenal were at the top of their respective games, beautifully blending influences as varied as reggae, gospel, and early rock & roll.

During February and March 1978 the Garcia Band, along with Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, hit the road in support of the album for a whirlwind run of shows throughout the East Coast and California. The tour culminated in a benefit show on March 22 for the local paper Sonoma Stump, in the tiny Sonoma town of Sebastapol, with Buzz Buchanan assuming drums in place of Tutt. On paper this show looks like a straightforward, yet stacked, Jerry gig – Motown is represented not once but twice in the first set with “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “I Second That Emotion”. There is the Dylan cover (“Simple Twist of Fate”) and a soulful albeit ghostly rendition of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” along with cuts off the new album including the title track and the quiet romanticism of “Mission in the Rain”. The second set, however, is where the heat lies – opening the set is a pummeling version of Jimmy Cliffs “The Harder They Come” – with Kahn’s bass hammering out a thick rhythmic pulse, as Buzz fills it in with a rootsy swing. Garcia easily slides into the solos as Keith tickles the keys with a funky and imaginative fervor.

As the set raves on, the continuing mystery of JGB’s Abbott and Costello-like membership is brought to the fore, as it has being long rumored that Hunter’s keyboardist, Ozzie Ahlers, sat in with the band that evening as an unknown, yet swift, set of hands taking the group off the rails for a runaway version of “Mystery Train”. The Garcia estate, through some deep detective work, finally confirmed he was indeed the hands behind the final four songs – making this the first recordings of Ahlers with the JGB as he later joined the group from 1979-80. The real highlight of the second half with Ahlers is the short but sweet gospel standard “I’ll Be With Thee”. Maria and Donna beautifully harmonize together (so well in fact that you have to wonder what the Dead would of sounded like if Maria was always there to support Donna) as Garcia’s voice plays the part of our Lord bellowing reassurance of constant companionship and faith. Not to be outdone, the night closes with a spirited version of “Midnight Moonlight” that sends the small crowd into the brisk Pacific air. As history would prove, the chances of seeing such a intimate affair, post-1978, would become far and few between …  words / d norsen

Jerry Garcia Band :: I’ll Be With Thee

tvOne hell of a night in Cleveland. Television played its first out-of-town shows deep in the heart of Ohio in the summer of ’75. The opening band was Rocket From The Tombs, a band that would soon splinter into Pere Ubu and Dead Boys (You can hear the RFTT set from this night on the the officially-released The Day the Earth Met Rocket From The Tombs). Television had been doing some splintering of late as well, having bid adieu to their original bassist / songwriter/ vocalist Richard Hell just a few months earlier. His replacement, Fred Smith (stolen away from the then-fledgling Blondie) made a big difference in the sound.

“All I know is when we got Fred it clicked immediately,” Tom Verlaine said. “At the first rehearsal me and Lloyd [were] looking at each other and thinking ‘God, this is a real relief.’ It was like having a lightning rod you could spark around. Something was there that wasn’t there before.”

This Piccadilly tape is proof positive of the band’s newly found prowess. Gone are the lurching rhythms and the cluttered arrangements that sometimes marred the Hell era of the band; in their place is pure majestic sound. There are still some rough spots, and these songs would still go through some changes before being recorded, but all in all, this is one of the greatest Television live performances.

Check out the 10-minute “Breakin’ In My Heart” here, a tune I’ve always thought of as Television’s entry in the “Sister Ray”/”Roadrunner” riff sweepstakes. It’s a song the band never got around to recording (Verlaine returned to it on his first solo album), but that’s no loss — this version is definitive, with a mindbending intro, an improv-ed narration from Verlaine and an explosive finish. At some point you can hear some gobsmacked Clevelander exclaim, simply: “WOW.” There are a few other tunes here that never made it to the studio: the slinky “Hard On Love,” the tortured “Poor Circulation” and the rave-up to end all rave-ups, “Kingdom Come.” After a season in hell, Television sounds positively celestial. words / t wilcox

Download: Television :: Piccadilly Inn – Cleveland, July 25, 1975 (zipped folder/mediafire link)

1. Fire Engine 2. Hard On Love 3. Poor Circulation 4. Friction 5. Marquee Moon 6. Breakin’ In My Heart 7. Venus 8. Prove It 9. Careful 10. Little Johnny Jewel 11. Foxhole 12. Kingdom Come

rbwf_91It’s been 10 years since Raymond Raposa’s Castanets released Cathedral, a powerful work of skeletal folk and dread. Since then the songwriter has been consistent – releasing a string of Castanets albums, each one stretching out in strange and wild ways, incorporating skittering electronics, booming dub, and ambient noise into Raposa’s blues and folk explorations. In 2012, though, he shuffled off the Castanets moniker with a freewheeling rock record called Little Death Shaker, credited to Raymond Byron and the White Freighter (around the same time he recorded some incredible covers for Aquarium Drunkard, including a haunting take on a Toby Keith number).

That album felt like a potent rebirth, but now in 2014, a decade after Cathedral, Raposa has returned to the Castanets name with Decimation Blues. It wasn’t planned, Raposa explains, but simply a matter of recognizing what makes a “Castanets” record different from a “Raymond Byron” record: the fruitful collaboration he’s enjoys with the producer, Rafter Roberts.

“It was gonna be a solo record, but I flew down to San Diego, mostly because I wanted to get in some ocean time,” Raposa says. While there, he began work with Rafter, and quickly recognized what the musician and producer had brought to each installment of the Castanets discography. It became apparent to Raposa that it wasn’t a solo record, but a Castanets one, and the idea was echoed by drummer Nathan Hubbard.

“Nathan and I were in the live room, and Rafter was in the booth, and he said the combination of Rafter and I ‘sealed the deal’ that it was a Castanets record,” Raposa says.

Decimation Blues demonstrates the sprawling approach that defines Castanets. Booming bass and Rhodes piano open the album with “It’s Good to Touch You in the Sunlight,” employing a gentle ramble that is quickly disrupted by the twitching “Be My Eyes,” where Raposa’s vocals are filtered through disorienting effects. There’s woozy Americana, like the warped country ballad “Pour It Tall and Pour It True,” and the skewed “My Girl Comes to the City.” Raposa filters his voice through a vocoder for “Tell Them Memphis,” recalling warbled R&B, and “Thunder Bay” features a gorgeous multi-track choir over Van Morrison-evoking reeds.

“At the core they’re simple songs, there are three-or-four chords,” Raposa says. “You could play them with a bluegrass quartet and they would sound naturalistic and serve a purpose.” But Raposa explains that Rafter’s Singing Serpent Studios is stuffed with gear, “more gear than you could ever possibly desire,” and that surrounded by keys, synths, and analog toys, the songs quickly took on new textures and dimensions.

“You pick what you’re going to use for the day and hammer it out. We worked this record faster than any record I’ve made.”

The resulting album adds a fascinating new chapter to the Castanets catalog, one that speaks to both the isolation and fierce beauty found in Raposa’s words, a sentiment summed up best by his notes concerning “Out for the West”: “The days are short and the night ain’t so bad if we’re lucky.” words / j woodbury

Castanets :: It’s Good To See You In The Sunlight

reservation

(this is the first of an ongoing series with our east coast brethren, Chances With Wolves…)

It’s funny that we talk so much about hip hop and we play so little hip-hop on Chances with Wolves. For both my partner, Kray, and myself; hip-hop was essentially our entry point to music, and like many people, hunting down breaks and samples was an educational experience that broadened our horizons exponentially.

About a year ago, I watched Beats, Rhymes & Life — Michael Rappaport’s documentary about A Tribe Called Quest. This brought back all kinds of nostalgic feelings. Having grown up in NYC, It’s hard to overstate how important ATCQ’s music was to us; (the whole Native Tongues for that matter), and how closely connected we all felt to it. I walked by the Square Diner in lower Manhattan while they were filming the video for “Electric Relaxation”, and I remember feeling so proud to be a New Yorker, and so lucky to be able to experience what was coming out of our city at that time. Anyway, there was one scene the doc where Q-Tip is recounting how they got the name Native Tongues, for the collective that included ATCQ, De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep, Leaders of the New School and so on. He said he was cutting up a record by New Birth called “African Cry”; specifically the line “They took away our native tongue, and taught their English to our young”, when Africa (of the Jungle Brothers), suggested they called themselves the “Native Tongues”. This line sounded familiar to me, and I dug up the New Birth album and listened to the whole track. I realized right away that it was an adaptation of “Indian Reservation” or “Cherokee Nation” as it’s sometimes known, which was made famous by Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Paul Revere & The Raiders :: Indian Reservation Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)
The New Birth :: African Cry

9.00 PM

With a little more digging I discovered that the Raider’s version was based on Don Fardon’s version, which was in turn a cover of a 1959 Marvin Rainwater song called “Pale Faced Indian”. So I dug around some more and found a Santo and Johnny version, a really brassy Hugo Strasser version, a Disco one by Orlando Riva Sound, and then a reggae one by the Jay Boys called “African Blood”. I’m not sure if that came before or after the New Birth, but I thought it was an amazing idea to re-appropriate the lyrical content that was originally about one group of oppressed people, and apply it to the experience of another.

Hugo Strasser :: Indian Reservation
Orlando Riva Sound :: Sound Indian Reservation

And how, in this roundabout way, from a 1959 song about the plight of the Cherokee People, some of our favorite rap groups found a name for their collective identity that suited them so well. And then I played all these different versions on the radio show, episodes 220 and 240, and I’m not sure if anyone besides me and Kray had any idea why it felt significant, but that’s ok. I just think it’s a beautiful example of the way music connects and self-references and gets re-contextualized..

ChuckBerry2

Chuck Berry On The Rocks: Volume II. A choice selection of primitive sixties garage rock. Our second collaboration with Gothenburg, Sweden DJ/record collector Peer Schouten. Find and download volume one, HERE.

Download/tracklisting after the jump…

medicine-head-natural-sight-dandelion-3At a time when prog and glam were in the ascendant, Medicine Head stood out—or rather, they didn’t. Their lack of showiness just made them look all the more freakish: a two man band consisting of a singer-guitarist (who also handled kick drum and high hat) and a Garfunkel-like assistant on harmonica. There is something ascetic and hobbled about them. Their sound, however, is all the more remarkable for being so pared down and rudimentary. Even at their most hard-rocking, they could still be sketchy in their approach.

We’ve all seen those classic album documentaries during which a wizened engineer will fade a song’s constituent parts in and out—and there’s always that eerie moment, when suddenly we hear an old song anew because just one or two of its ingredients have been isolated. Well, Medicine Head, at their best, seemed to thrive on that same eeriness, tearing just a few threads from a larger tapestry and letting them lie there in a crumpled heap. Here you go.

The band did, however, have two wildly opposing sides to their sound. One side was a brand of British Blues that was ad-hoc and anti-purist (e.g. they weren’t seeking to replicate the blues, but to mess around with it in the abstract). The other was a blend of psychedelic folk that, because of the band’s format, came out dirge-like and otherworldly, as if The Velvet Underground had gone and produced a Donovan album.

It was John Peel who rush-released a Medicine Head demo titled ‘His Guiding Hand’ as the band’s first single in 1969.This was the same year as Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit in the Sky,’ so the un-ironic religiosity of the song isn’t completely out of left field. What is striking is its melancholy, accentuated by the low-key vocal and the accordion-like drone of the harmonica playing. Here we have a blurring of the Sacred and Profane, a redemptive longing, which wouldn’t have been out of place in Donne or Herbert: ‘He put me in the spirit. He took the tooth by the jaw. He brought me to his feet with his guiding hand.’

Medicine Head :: His Guiding Hand

Also remarkable is how these two guys could shift gears completely and still (due to limits in instrumentation and personnel) sound like the same band. Listen to the way they tackle Dylan’s ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,’ and manage to actually turn it into a blues, albeit one that sounds like it’s about to be exiled on main street. Unlike Nina Simone’s beautiful, languid cover from the year prior, or even Dylan’s original, this is not pretty stuff. This is sun-stroked and hungover with the dust in its eyes. Listening to it, I’m always reminded of a joke Dylan made in an interview when asked about a screenplay he was supposedly writing. Asked what kind of film it was, Dylan replied, ‘a cowboy horror movie’. For me, this will always be the track that should have played over the opening credits. words / dk o’hara

Medicine Head :: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues